Last year in the end of October coming back from a business trip from China (now this fact sounds funny and shocking at the same time), I would not have imagined that the world could never be the same again and people would be ‘forced’ by circumstances to lead a virtual life - buy things mostly online, travel only in their dreams, work from home (if they have a chance) and attend online business events with virtual customers in a virtual world of a virtual exhibition. Sounds too unrealistic… However, in 2020 we and our businesses had to face and adopt this kind of reality.
Let’s try to highlight pros and cons of online trade-shows for businesses and bring about some tips for participants on how to make the most out of any virtual event.
Definite pros are the following:
First and the most evident benefit of any virtual event is saving a company's budget - no need to cover travel expenses, hire professional stand designers, print out or produce promotional materials, etc. Money is saved, employees are working in the office.
Simplified lead generation
You just familiarise yourself with the instructions or attend an online training session, upload the materials to a virtual booth and get ready for lead generation which seems fairly easy as chats and specialised meeting platforms helping to connect with potential customers, schedule video calls and exchange business cards are available for you.
Relaxed & safe environment
No stress! You don’t need to travel to an unfamiliar place carrying several suits and tons of materials - just come to the office or stay at home and select an office background for your video call, sit in jeans or pyjamas pants wearing the jacket, bring a cup of coffee and you are ready to sell. Furthermore, you won’t be exposed to any viruses.
Yet, the coin has two sides and here are the cons:
Lack of full customer understanding
Face-to-face communication with potential customers allows us to better understand them not only through speech but also through body language - if a person feels comfortable, hesitates or is ready to buy a product. Besides, it is rather difficult to spread your charming vibes through a screen and make an interlocutor charmed and focused only on you but not on constantly popping up messages or emails.
No genuine experience
The most exciting thing during trade-shows or any other mass events is experience you get while walking around, touching products, watching showcases, networking, shaking hands and communicating with people face-to-face. A person can just be passing by, but suddenly some detail of your booth may catch an eye and you may catch a lead.
Overcomplicated UX + tech problems
To navigate fast and generate leads you have to read many instructions, learn all the technician requirements and peculiarities of a platform and you are lucky if there is only one platform because usually there are several. You probably would experience technical issues like ‘can’t upload a file’ or ‘a video link is not working’. Finally, when an event starts you receive lots of emails about what to do and where to go, and when you did everything and entered the exhibition the navigation all over the virtual space may turn out to be not so easy.
Notwithstanding the drawbacks we need to face a new reality and accept an online challenge. So our LeadSpotting team generated some useful tips for participants of online events.
Find and mark the potential leads before an event begins.
Check if there is a platform to pre-schedule online meetings with participants and start networking before an event launch.
Learn how an event platform works and what actions it allows to perform.
If you did not manage to arrange meetings before an event, go to a target company virtual booth and talk in the chat.
Share responsibilities among several people (for example, one in the booth, one scheduling meetings, etc.) in order to connect to as many prospects as possible.
Have people covering different time zones.
Do not just walk around (it is much more difficult online) and focus on your goals and target prospects you found before.
Enjoy the experience!